Tuesday, November 3, 2009

WVIA with George Graham

Once back in NYC, I took a mini-road trip to Pittston, PA for a recording at WVIA studios. From my newsletter, you may remember reading George Graham's review of my new album, "Let the Waves Come in Threes." He invited me to record for his show, Homegrown Music, where he asks for new arrangements, a few songs from the album, and as much new material as possible. This was a challenge for me, because I'm still riding the wave, so to speak, of my recent release! But I was able to complete two new songs for the program - "So I Chased the Setting Sun, " and "Keep on Moving." The latter is dedicated to my grandmother. I'll give you some advanced notice when the program airs in December - it will also be archived. George and I did a short interview, and I had a full hour to play on their beautiful Steinway B (grand piano).

Jalopy with Aiofe and Lissa

I had such a great time on a Triple Bill with my friends at Jalopy. If you haven't yet been there, you must go - it's a new venue, specializing in folk and bluegrass, right in Brooklyn. Almost has the feel of a vaudeville theater, and banjos deck the walls. The piano is an upright from the time of the civil war! But it's been kept in good condition, and aside from one missing key, I loved playing it! I even debuted a new song, "So We Chased the Setting Sun," which you'll hear on an upcoming live studio recording. We will soon have edited video taken by my friend Vinnie Mineo (Vinnie, the video guy!). I'll keep you posted when that goes up on YouTube. Special thanks go out to Lissa Schneckenberger and Aiofe O'Donovan (of Crooked Still) for inviting me to join them on this wonderful evening!

Tribute to my Grandmothers

I am setting this space aside for a special forthcoming dedication to my grandmothers, Loretta Johnson and Eloise Frary.

Burlington with Martha Colby

A few days later, I made my way north to Burlington, VT. It was so refreshing to see my lovely friend, Martha Colby, who joined me on cello at Radio Bean. Martha and I have been collaborating since about 2004, when we met at the Songwriter's Beat at Cornelia Street Cafe. She's an incredible songwriter and her cello chops are out-of-this world! In fact, I've never heard anyone else come up with such creative parts, and she can play any style of music. You should check out her stuff too. Will add photo...it must be on my other computer (thinking out-loud).
We had at very fun show in Burlington, and I was excited to reconnect with some of my friends who have moved up there from Bennington. I also got to know some of my parent's friends. I must say, the best part of touring is seeing old friends and making new ones. Truly, it makes it all possible and worthwhile. So, thanks for being out there...you keep me going!

Rosendale and the mystery of the missing August

So, vacation went on for at least a week in August, and then I was back to the road. Here's a pic of Rosendale Cafe. A very quaint town near Poughkeepsie. This worked out well because I also did a show on Vassar College Radio with a wonderful host named Sharon. Rosendale has a songwriter series on Tuesday nights, and I'd heard about the venue through Toshi Reagon. They have some great names coming through there, and the town is not far from Woodstock, a wonderful arts community. Hoping to come back through and also to visit my friends at Vassar College (shout out!).

WBCR Great Barrington

So, the tour went on, blahbittyblah and I played lots more shows and then I went back to visit Jeanne Bassis at Berkshire Community Radio (WBCR) in Great Barrington. Truth be told, I left a shirt there (not the only one on my back mind you) and wanted to pick it up. Suddenly I was whisked on the air because her act didn't show up for their interview! It was a circus! Seriously! I guess they ran off with another circus or something...? Funny thing was John had to go on the air too - she insisted! And he was great. Archives? No. But you can imagine my surprise. She decided to spin some tracks from my record too, including, "Smile for Free." Very fun, free-spirited, lady and I hope to come back and to another interview with her soon!

After Shelburne

After my show in Shelburne Falls (I thought about including YET ANOTHER photo of me at my Nord, but then decided you'd seen that before!), I spent a week at my boyfriend's cottage in western MA. Yes, we busy touring artists need (or can be convinced we need) a little time off! I know you're not supposed to feed ducks, so please don't tell anyone - I only did it once and those Nilla wafers just had to go. I can't believe I'm sharing my feet with you. But here goes!

I've been holding out on you!

Hey friends, sorry I've been neglecting my blog! I left off in August and suddenly it's November. I have so many fun photos to share with you, and a picture says a thousand words. So, here's catching up on summer past and bringing you into fall...enjoy!
My friend Nina and I went out to Peaks Island off the coast of Maine a couple of days after my Portland show. Beautiful weather for biking, until we got caught in a rainstorm! Nina is in a songwriter's collective with me back in NYC. She's also in a great band called Sweet Bitters that's going to NERFA this year. Yay! That's next week!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Callback at Tupelo Hall

I had a great time playing on the open stage at Tupelo Hall in Londonderry, NH. And I must thank Susan Werner, who apparently picked out their piano, for changing my negative opinion of Baldwin Pianos - I loved theirs. It was a real treat to play on such a big stage, and I hope one day to have my own show there. At the open stage, you are only asked to play two songs, so it's very hard to choose. I went with, "Let the Waves Come in Threes" (the title track/sea shanty) and, "Shadow of a Doubt" (always a favorite). Both of these songs feature a lot of piano texture, and I was able to bust out a fun solo on Shadow. In fact, the feature act of the night had quoted The Pink Panther in one of his solos, so I made sure to do the same :) His name was Jacob Johnson - very good guitarist and hilarious performer. I decided to stay for the whole night (even though I played fairly early on) so that I could hear everyone else. Right before me, a pirate had performed! He was literally in full pirate garb! Things were winding down around midnight, and the room was still pretty packed. Suddenly I heard an announcement from the stage asking if Anna Dagmar would come up and play another song to close the night. My first callback (usually this is a term I associate with actors). I had only a moment to decide on a song, and of course thank them for the opportunity. Having already played my most piano-y stuff, I went with a ballad, "Amazed." I felt very connected to the audience, and it was easy to sing. After the show, the booker mentioned he'd like to talk to me about being an opener for a headline artist or being a feature act on a future open stage. Needless to say, I'll be following up on this great lead and will keep you posted!

Lobster Quadrille

Who can say anything bad about Maine? I was lucky to have a few days there surrounding my gig at the North Star in Portland. I made a point of getting hopelessly lost near Kennebunkport, while trying to drive some friends to the beach. So lost in fact, that I became dangerously malnourished and down and out, and I just had to pull over and stop for a $14.95 Lobster Roll. It was worth every penny! The show with Mike McGinnis went really well - he's a magician on the clarinet. We hadn't really had time to rehearse, but as you know, Mike plays on the new album and has been playing with me since we met at Eastman. He's great at creating spontaneous arrangements and he knows when to use space and when to add something to the music. Very tasteful. And playing with someone who improvises so well gives the songs a fresh life. BTW the "Lobster Quadrille" is from Alice in Wonderland (a favorite story of my childhood in England). I've realized that the lyrics "will you, won't you?" in my song, "Falling Star," must have been inspired by this passage in the book - take a look!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Java might not be such a bad idea

Just as hard as it was to leave Pompanuck, it was even harder to face the four hour drive back to Chelmsford. I usually do vocal warm-ups in the car (not ideal, but practical) but this time I just tuned into NPR and lots of Saturday story-telling in between trying to keep myself awake with the wind from the wide-open windows. (Maybe that's why they call them wind-ohs!) And what better place to collect your brain cells than an afternoon catching up with business at Kinkos? Ugh. But by the time I got to the Java Room, I was gig-ready. I was actually excited because Daniel LeBlanc from an HBO shoot-off had come to video tape my show and interview me (will share footage in September) for a special on Chelmsford musicians. The turn-out was great and I love playing the piano there. Folks that couldn't make the All Saints' show came to this one, and some came to both (thank you!!!). The concert went well, but this was the first one where I actually felt exhausted (rather than energized) afterwards. I suppose I had been traveling for over a month, so it's understandable! Maybe I should actually consider drinking java?!

Free Range Pianos

A hop, skip and a jump (and a 30 minute wait behind a stuck train) brought me to Pompanuck Farm in Cambridge, NY. You MUST find an opportunity to visit there! I knew about it from a friend's wedding, and they have organic produce, free range chickens, free range pianos (!) a retreat center, Yoga classes, childrens' camp, theater programs, a Yurt, camping, a music series and a completely sustainable existence on the land. It was lucky timing because the evening of my concert was the night before several jazz musicians were beginning a week-long retreat at Pompanuck. Therefore, jazz pianist/composer Art Lande and his wife, vocalist/improvisor/occupational therapist Aubrey were in attendence. I met Art several years back at a Michael Cain concert and spent more time with him at a piano get-together at Erik Deutch's house. It was wonderful to know he was in the audience, and he was kind enough to introduce me before I took the stage. I played two long sets, including many songs I rarely perform such as, "Midtown," "One More Time in the Air," and "If You Leave Me." After a cheerful reception with many people from the surrounding area, I holed up in my room at the meditation space and slept soundly next to a copy of Tao te Ching. It was nearly impossible to tear myself away from all of the jazzers round the table the next morning, after we indulged in blueberry pancakes with homemade yogurt. Special thanks to Scott and Lisa for making this event possible, and it sounds like I will be performing there in-the-round on one of their upcoming songwriter nights. Stayed tuned, folks in Bennington, VT (it's only 20 min away).

"You Play Piano Like I Fly Planes!"

Thursday the 30th I headed out to Leeds, MA for a house concert at the son of my high school choir director's home. He is married now with two wonderful half-Danish children. I knew it was his house because of the sit-upon and push-along lawnmowers multiplying in the yard (he fixes them for all the neighbors and sometimes they turn up out of nowhere!). That night we had his wife's delicious baked goods and homemade blackberry jam in between short sets of music. One member of the audience offered me the quote of the night: "You play piano like I fly planes!" Turns out he's a pilot :) Around 12:30am I had a request for some Debussy, and duly played Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum on the antique red upright piano - unknown to me, my high school choir director was listening on the other end of the phone! In the morning, the young girls were up early and after a bout with exploding tea, we settled back to the piano to sing from a charming book of Danish children's songs! I left their house full of sunshine (and blackberry jam).

Chelmsford Chapel

Playing at All Saint's Chapel was one of the highlights of my whole tour. Luckily, I had emerged from a horrible migraine only an hour before the show. *Quick note - good foods for migraines include Oatmeal, Peppermint, and Spinach!* My parents were visiting as well, and of course they made the emergency grocery run (times never change/thanks mom and dad!). But in spite of the fact I wasn't feeling 100%, something happens when you are on stage. And looking out at good friends from my home town was the key to feeling better. Amy and I chose four songs for her features - "Smile for Free," "More Beautiful Than the Sun," "Welcome Stranger," and a duet with me of, "Let the Waves Come in Threes." She sounded gorgeous (AS ALWAYS!!!). The reception was lovely and there were many blasts from the past, including my 8th grade English teacher (remember reading Anne Frank? I wrote a song about her back then.), a good friend/composer from Eastman, and the warm and helpful church community. I'm grateful to always feel at home in Chelmsford, MA.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Oops! You're on Camera!

I had a few days to regroup in Massachusetts before my Chelmsford show. Lots of fun catching up with a close friend from childhood, cooking, walking her dogs and reading poetry. I did have two things on the TO DO list that week - an interview at Tufts University with Morgan Hute and an interview on WSCA in Portsmouth, NH with Shawn Henderson. Morgan had a very warm tone and paid particular attention to the instrumentation on my album. He also knows the music scene in Boston like the back of his hand, and we talked about our favorite artists including Jennifer Kimball. On Shawn's show I got to play live. DIDN'T KNOW I WOULD BE VIDEO TAPED(!) until I got there, but I will be prepared next time :) It was really fun and you can see the footage from the studio at the link below. (Shadow of a Doubt was my favorite clip.) http://www.youtube.com/stringman6#play/user/7827B7726B321521/3/BnxqpNLRuJ4

I'm looking forward to the show in Portsmouth on Aug. 31.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Connecting Connecticut

My new GPS unit, affectionately named "Brandy," helped guide me (and nearly drove me to empty in a desperate search for a gas station) this week in CT. My travels began in Lakeville at my dear friend Eva's wedding. I had the honor of performing my original song, "Amazed" during the procession, which was outdoors, under the chuppa, in front of a stunning view of the lake. From Lakeville I headed, circuitously, to Stamford, to visit my friend Jason Polise, who would be performing on the Bridgeport gig. First Jason and I did a promo interview on WPKN (photo above of me with DJ's Bob and Jo, taken by John Webb). Later, we went to Jason's house, where he has built a top-of-the-line recording studio in his house. It was a perfect place to relax, read, write and practice. The night of the show (Thur. July 16), Jason and I performed with Ben Kibbey (trumpet), Matt Dinsick (drums), and Dillon Spielvogel (bass) at the Acoustic Cafe. It was refreshing to play full band again and I even got to sing, "Brick by Brick" in a completely new arrangement - Ben on Hammond organ! Friday night I had the pleasure of playing at a unique little spot called Jitters in Southington, CT. And on Saturday, it was a treat to be part of "THREE," a concert also featuring singer-songwriters Natalie Riccio and Jody Redhage in Branford, CT. It was held in a delightful loft at the top of an old school house. Great acoustics and a lovely, warm-hearted audience. Jody's music is a little more from a classical perspective (she also plays the cello and composes orchestrations) and Natalie has an almost comic-like delivery and very dramatic, piano-driven songs. We are going to plan another concert together, maybe in Brooklyn or Virginia.

Great Barrington surprise!

The day after my return from Montana (July 6) I drove to Great Barrington, MA for an interview on WBCR with Jeanne Bassis. Her show, "In the Spirit of Play" features several artists at a time; in my case I was interviewed alongside an actor and a poet. Made for some fun and interesting tri-o-logue! Jeanne also asked me to accompany her with music during her Public Service Announcements. That was a first! And I sang songs from the new record as well as some old favorites like, "Falling Star."

Anna Montana

My trip to Montana was part gig, part vacation! Here's a picture (photo by Scott Edgerton) of one of the THE BEST concerts I've ever done, on my friend's deck, surrounded by mountains and tall pine trees, a chance to meet so many nice people and share the stage with Peter Novak and Dan Sullivan (local musical duo). This was a night to remember! (sorry no pics from the jacuzzi) I was a little nervous at first to play for so many strangers, but I am learning how to connect with people more and more, and I just use eye contact and pretend that I already know them. I want to open up and let the songs come out in their fullest form. I hope I achieved that on this special night.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Sorry" for the Piano/Saugerties

Just a quick trip through Saugerties, I played at Inquiring Minds, which is a bookstore and coffee shop. When I arrived, the owner was working on the outside of the building, and as soon as I approached her, she apologized that a PIANO had just been moved in that day, and that it would be IN THE WAY of the stage where people normally perform! (I think they are used to guitarists...) I couldn't have been happier! Please don't let my Nord keyboard hear this, but I prefer acoustic instruments :) because they lend themselves to more risky and adventurous improvisations. Seriously, sometimes I slip off those keyboard keys! The concert went well and I did a few covers, including, "I Don't Want Anything To Change" from a recent Bonnie Raitt album.

Milk and Meteorology in Schenectady, NY

So many good things came together for my gig at Moon and River Cafe in Schenectady! I was able to reconnect with a friend from my high school Calculus classes (how I got through AP math remains a mystery!). He's now a meteorologist, and he actually gave me my own personal weather report just looking at the clouds on Tuesday. He also made me drink naturally carbonated sulfur water in the park at Saratoga Springs (bluck!!!). I also visited with the engineer (and father of my first producer) from my debut album, "One More Time in the Air" who lives with his wife in the Albany area. What a hoot we had talking about funny gig experiences and eating delicious homemade strawberry shortcake! At Moon and River my high school friend's buddy Rick Janasy took pictures and the other band, Left on Red, created a video (link coming soon!). Turns out Rick actually worked at Harvey Milk's shop in San Francisco in the 70's! What an honor it was to meet him and to read his recent account of Milk. If you haven't seen the Sean Penn film, YOU MUST. Before my set, I sat in on keys with Tom Mercoglan and I got to play a little 1950's model Melodica sitting in with Left on Red. What a fun band! Looks like we'll be meeting up a lot in New York when we are all off tour.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Photos from Warsaw Show

Hey there! Here are some pics from my gig in Warsaw, NY. Such a funny day.... It started off with a radio interview on WRUR in Rochester. If there's a way to get lost, I will always find it. I did make it to the station, but couldn't find the parking lot. Luckily a lady behind the building started explaining how to get around the intersection and do a U-ey and then she said, "Oh this is so hard to describe, I'll just hop in!" So she jumped into my car. I had my CD playing because I was warming up my voice. As we circled the building, she asked what it was and I said, "That's your free Anna Dagmar CD! Thanks for helping me out, I would have been late for the interview!"

I met the DJ, Scott Regan and set up my gear. He played on of my songs from the album on air and then asked me to play something live. So I jumped into "Amazed." But couldn't hear my own keyboard! I didn't want to stop and somehow vaguely I could hear the pitch from somewhere in the room. So, I kept going and started singing as if there were a piano sound. The photographer was searching desperately around the room, and located the headphones, which I hadn't noticed. He gingerly slipped them over my ears, and about halfway through the performance I could hear the keys! Scott was in silent hysterics! After the song was through, Scott informed the whole listening audience of the mayham that had just ensued! It was a real icebreaker. He said he was "Amazed," I had been able to keep going without giving it all away. After that, the questions seemed easy! I'll soon have a link on my homepage www.AnnaDagmar.com where you can click to hear the interview.

The afternoon continued with another interview on WCJW in the tiny, rural town of Warsaw. I was nearly two hours early (due to my paranoia about getting lost) so I drove over hill and dale until I found a Bistro in a Country Club. A guy at the bar knew my whole bio, thanks to the article about my concert that was in the paper that morning. It was a little creepy! The interview on WCJW was a blast, and I'll be getting a recording of that soon too.

After that, I still about 3 hours to kill in Warsaw. I went "downtown" to the traffic light (one of two in the town) and saw the lone horse hobble by... Scoped out some massage places, but they were all booked up. I guess people get stressed there too! "Ho hum...what to do, what to do..." Eyebrow wax came to mind! Made that last as long as I could. It's something I only have done about once a year!

Finally an idea - something I'd heard about people doing - I went for a drive. Up one hill, past the corn fields, down another hill, farmhouse after barn after hay bail, I pulled over into a clearing and took some pictures. Then I sat in my car with the door open to get some air and worked on writing some lyrics. Not long after that, I saw a man emerging in the distance through the corn field. He was carrying a tripod, so I thought, "oh a photographer, nice." As he got closer I wasn't sure it was a tripod. But thought maybe part of an easel or something. I didn't have my glasses on. I kept writing. Glanced back up, and suddenly I realized, it was a gun! A rifle over his shoulder! Reflex made me slam my door shut and put the key in the ignition. He shouted, "Hey, are you okay?" Then he realized I was scared stiff, and I guess he remember he was carrying a gun. He set it down deep in the corn field and walked forward about ten feet. He said, "I was just making sure you are okay, are you stuck?" I picked my bottom jaw back up, and said, "Yeah, I got scared when I realized you were carrying a rifle!" His excuse was that they were having a "woodchuck problem." We spoke briefly about the town, and then I decided it was time to drive back to semi-civilization, yes, back to the #2 traffic light.

You see, all of this before the concert even happened! Well, I guess I'll be a good little blogger. This is my first entry. The show went really well, brilliant sound guy (yay Rob!) and the theater was really cool - it used to be a vaudeville type theater, then it was a cinema, and it was bought a year and a half ago by a sweet couple who have turned it into a music venue. A funky band led by Gavin Petrie played after my set. I'm publishing some pictures from the show and my crazy day in Warsaw.